One often-overlooked source of subscribers for online businesses is their local community. We can get so focused on the online world that we forget we live in a town or city full of potential customers! Here are some simple ideas for building a huge list by marketing locally. Start with one or try them all then keep adding to your methods as you go for the best results.
1. Write a column for your community paper that offers tips and advice for your target audience. If your topic is of general enough interest (like gardening, parenting, business, etc.), the paper may be interested in publishing it with a link to your website.
2. Create a simple flyer and print several on brightly colored cardstock. Laminate them and post around town where subscribers can see them, such as on public bulletin boards or in laundromats or the town library. For best results, limit the text to a short blurb and your subscription URL. For instance, if you target crafters, your poster could read, "Free Craft Tips!" and the URL. These will last longer than plain flyers and cost less than printed signs.
3. Join local networking groups, chambers of commerce, and service groups. Not only will you break the isolation of working mostly online, you'll also be exposed to dozens of potential partners, advertisers, and customers!
4. Contact a local radio station and ask if they'd allow you to sponsor a contest for their listeners. Radio stations are constantly looking for promotions and prizes, so your chances of a “Yes” are high! Direct listeners to your website so they can enter the contest and include the stipulation that everyone who enters will be added to your mailing list.
5. Search for places your target audience frequents and promote your mailing list there. For instance, if you target parents, contact area hospitals and pediatricians and let them know you have a free mailing list that offers parenting tips and information, and ask if they could include a flyer in the packets they hand out to new moms.
6. Don't forget your local Craigslist. Craigslist – the online version of the local classifieds – has become such a huge draw that even Internet newcomers seem to know about it – and visit! Take advantage of this free ad opportunity. Just be sure to list your ads in the appropriate locations and follow all the rules to keep from being flagged.
7. Get in conversations. We often don't take advantage of opportunities to tell others about our business, assuming that because it's online, “ordinary” people won't be interested or understand what we're doing. That's a big mistake – people are people, and you're as likely to find your next customer next door as you are on the Internet. Get over your hesitation to tell others about your online business. Explain what you do and ask if they or someone they know might be interested in your product or service.
8. Speak! Local service clubs, hospitals, women's groups, senior centers, and the like are always looking for low- or no-cost speakers. Pick an area of your expertise that will be of interest to the group, and contact them about holding a seminar or talk. Make sure to bring your business cards or promotional items.
Stretching outside your comfort zone is a sure-fire way to expose yourself to new prospects. Think of everyone you come in contact with as a potential subscriber to your list, and realize that if they need what you sell, you're doing them a favor by solving their problems. 


Among all the strategies you can use to promote your list, providing useful information that your target audience wants is the best thing you can do. Quality content will grow your list FAST as your readers pass your information on to others, and tell your friends about your expertise.  
Quality content attracts readers and subscribers almost on its own. You won't have to work as hard or promote near as much if every message you send to your list contains quality content your readers crave.
For example, if your target audience is dog lovers, providing them with fresh and original tips to help them best enjoy and care for their canine friends will bring in subscribers quicker than you can say, "Fido"!
You could include articles and information on:
• How to care for dogs
• What to feed specific breeds to keep them healthy
• Training a dog not to jump
• Teaching new dogs old tricks
• Choosing the right breed for individual lifestyles
• Dealing with grief in the loss of a beloved pet
• Where to go on a dog-friendly vacation
• Anything else related to your topic.
These are the kind of articles that your target audience scours the Internet for. Giving it to them will create loyal subscribers who can't wait until the next issue arrives in their inbox, and who tell everyone they know to sign up for your mailing list.
Think of your personal reading habits. Most everyone who is online has subscribed to a mailing list or two in a topic that interests them. You probably have as well. Are you still subscribed? Why? If you unsubscribed, what made you leave?
We sometimes say it's because we don't have time to read, but if the truth be told, we stay subscribed to the lists we really value—even if we don't have time to read every single issue. So what's the REAL reason you left?
Tired articles? Nothing new or original? Same old stuff you see online everywhere else? Probably.
And your subscribers will be the same way.
But if you offer quality content that meets the need of your most targeted subscriber, you can bet your bottom dollar that subscriber will stick with you.
So, how do you ensure the content you're providing is what your readers want? By conducting a little research and see what's popular in your niche arena.
For instance, looking at dog lovers again, what books are dog lovers reading right now? What products are they buying? What movies are they watching? Visit dog lovers' forums online and see what they're talking about. Chat with your friends and family who have dogs and find out what they would like to read. All of these things can offer clues as to the kind of content your subscribers would like.
Keep on top of current trends in your niche market so you can beat your competition with the breadth and depth of your knowledge. While they're serving up the same tired articles about the dangers of puppy mills, you're telling your readers about the latest research in flea collars and how to raise a vegetarian dog.
Once you know the topics, then it's just a matter of writing some informative messages that provide that content in an easy-to-read, conversational style that lets your personality show through.
Providing quality content will always be the best way to grow your mailing list. It's what people are looking for when they subscribe, and it's what will keep them coming back for more, and telling others about your list, after they do.


If you have an email list but aren't making any money with it, you're sitting on your golden goose, not allowing it to lay any valuable eggs! The whole purpose of going to the trouble of creating, maintaining and growing a mailing list is to reach more customers, sell more products, and make more money. If you haven't seen a successful increase in your profit with your mailing list, it may be time to regroup and see what you need to do differently. Here are some of the biggest mistakes list owners make with their email marketing efforts:
They get lazy. After a while, many list owners get busy – or lazy – and forget about their lists. They start publishing less frequently or their consistency drops off. Or they may stop publishing altogether! Don't let this happen to you.
A neglected list is an unprofitable list. You need to stay in contact with your subscribers on a regular basis. You can go monthly, though no less than that, but bi-weekly is better, and weekly is probably best, depending upon your subscribers and your industry. People won't buy from you unless you're top-of-mind, and people's memories won't last any longer than it takes to delete your message from their in-box.
They get sloppy. You have to maintain the quality and integrity of the mailings you send to your list. Sure, you can use reprints occasionally. But be sure to add lots of original content as well. And if you do use a reprint, add a personal note to it, to give it more impact and let your readers know why you chose it.
If all you're doing is reprinting someone else's great content, don't be surprised if your subscribers decide to cut out the middleman and go right to the source – dropping off your list and joining someone else's with stronger, original content.
They get dated. If you've set up your messages using Aweber, or another autoresponder system, go back through the messages every once in a while and make sure they're up-to-date and current. For instance, if you ran a special promotion in message number one that ended a month ago, it can harm your credibility when a new subscriber receives that message with old information and broken links.
Online, all you have to impress your prospects is your presence. A broken link online is like a dirty restroom in a restaurant. It shows a lack of attention to detail, and your customers will wonder where else you're cutting corners.
They forget to sell. While it's wonderful to send educational information to your subscribers, don't forget to tell them what you're up to! Let them know about your new products and services. Share success stories and behind-the-scenes glimpses into your business life.
People love to know about the people they buy from, and sharing a bit of personal information about yourself will help them feel more attached to you.
They overwhelm their readers. More is not always better! Giving your subscribers dozens of links to resources, five product descriptions, and ten articles in each newsletter is too much. When people get that much information all at once, they shut down. They either delete the newsletter right then and there, or they leave it to read for “later” when they have more time (which we all know means “never”).
Choose the best of the best and provide just a few carefully targeted pieces of information. After all, you want to be a solution for your subscribers, not another problem!
Your list will only work when you use it, pay attention to it, and help it grow. Treat it as a valuable element of your business, and it will pay you back over and over again. 


Growing a huge list requires a variety of marketing strategies, and one of the easiest is to convert visitors to your website to list subscribers.
To begin, write a compelling description about what your list offers your targeted audience and why they'd want to subscribe. Use the WIIFM (What's In It For Me?) formula and include all the benefits of subscribing, the free goodies they'll receive for subscribing, how easy it is to join and opt-out if they choose, and details about the quality content they'll receive.
Create a page on your website specifically for this content. Your mailing list needs its own page. After all, your mailing list is one of the biggest and most profitable marketing methods you can use, so give it the attention it deserves.
Include a sign-up form on this page so visitors can easily subscribe to your list directly. You'll also want to include a sign-up form on every other page of your site. These forms are typically located in the upper right-hand navigation column. But on your dedicated list page, make it even more prominent and place it in the center of the page so it's easy to find.
Next, create a thank-you page and have your email list manager (Aweber or a similar service) redirect subscribers to this page when they subscribe. Here, you'll thank the subscriber for joining, and let her know if she should be expecting a confirmation in her inbox (a common “double opt-in” procedure for high-quality email list managers like Aweber).
You may want to think about using the bottom of this page for a "thank-you page swap" with another publisher who reaches your target audience. Your partner will use this space to promote your list, and you'll promote theirs. Language can be as simple as… "Now, that you've subscribed, why not check out another great newsletter…" with details or a link to a subscription box. This step isn't mandatory, but it can help grow your list if you choose your partner wisely.
Through your email management service, be sure that as soon as your subscriber has confirmed her email, she's redirected to the link to the free content you promised, or it's sent automatically via email. Whichever method you use, just be sure to get it into your subscriber's hands quickly. People tend to be impatient online, and following through right away on your promise to provide something will make a good impression.
Now that your new page is all set up, your thank-you page is in place, and your subscriber has the free information she wants, it's time to promote this page.
Submit the link to search engines, online newsletter directories, quality free advertising sites and anywhere else you can. Include it in the resource box for articles or guest blog posts you write, and in the signature line on forum posts. Arrange to swap links with other online business people in complementary industries.
Constantly work to build the site rankings on this page. Tweak the content and try different headlines and graphics, seeing which convert visitors to subscribers. 


As you learned above, growing a large, targeted email list is one of the primary keys to successful online business. But when you're starting from scratch, the idea of growing a list of thousands or more can be intimidating. While buying email addresses seems like a quick and easy solution, these lists are usually junk, with inactive addresses or contact information obtained illegally. So what can you do? Try giving away free stuff to grow your list! Here are five “ethical bribes” that have worked for online businesses just like yours:
1. Write an ebook. Everyone wants “insider info” that's not available anywhere else. An original ebook that offers quality content in your niche will attract a ton of subscribers. Some internet marketers use this tactic alone to grow their lists. And it's not as hard as you may think!
Begin by writing 5 to 10 original articles of approximately 500 to 750 words that your readers would benefit from. These can be on all different topics, or they can be related. But be sure they offer good information and are totally original. If writing is not your strong suit, consider hiring someone on a contract basis. Good writers are easy to find and very affordable nowadays.
Place all your articles together in one Microsoft Word document. Add a cover page to the front with an appropriate graphic, your byline, the name of your business and your web address, a statement that the content is proprietary and that they can only get a copy from you. For an added boost of traffic, include a page at the end inviting readers to direct others to your site for their own copy.
Once your document is complete, create a PDF file using one of the many free PDF converters available online (if you're on a Mac, it's even easier – it's included in your operating system). Then offer this special report as a gift for signing up for your email list, and watch your list explode!
2. Free downloads. Who can pass up free stuff? There are scores of free ebooks, software, graphics packages, podcasts, videos, audios, articles, and more that come with permission to distribute freely. Pick a few that would appeal to your market. Upload them to your website, or a file storage site if space is a concern, and give the links only to subscribers.
Add a few new downloads every week and you'll keep subscribers longer and keep them coming to your site for more free goodies.
3. Physical publications. While you may think only electronic or "intangible" freebies can grow your list, think again! A free printed booklet is an excellent way to reach subscribers. You can create one easily in Word or a similar program and print them one at a time on your computer or get a batch put together at a copy shop.
“101 Ways to…” or “45 Tips for…” are great titles for any niche. Just flesh out the title with quality tips and data, include your contact information and offer it to every new subscriber to your list.
4. Password-protected resource pages. If you prefer to not worry with downloads, create a free resource page that provides quality information your subscribers want. For instance, if your target audience is women in business, you can find free hundreds of places for women to advertise their business online, free.
Use this information to create a password-protected page for subscribers only on your website. Update the information weekly or monthly, and change the password each time so subscribers have to stay on your list to use the updates. Simple. Free. Effective.
5. Templates. Another great freebie to offer subscribers is website and blog templates. Create your own, hire someone to design a few, or find them online and share the links. Whatever you choose, make sure there's a natural match between the templates and your market for best results.
With these ideas in mind, put your thinking cap on and come up with a list of ten possible freebies for your list. Start with one and see how it's received. Remember, one of the best parts of working online is that it's easy to test multiple concepts, change your model, or try several things at once. The important thing is to pick an idea and implement it. 


Once you've selected your list manager, it's time to add subscribers. There are a number of ways you can successful entice website visitors, customers and prospects to join your email list:
1. Bribery! Not in the monetary sense, but in the “Let me make you an offer you can't refuse” sense. Offer a free, original ebook to anyone who subscribes to your email list. This method works especially well if your subscriber can only get the ebook from you. Don't have an ebook to give away? Try writing 5-10 original articles on your niche topic and compiling them into a PDF. It's a quick, easy and cost-free solution to create a unique product.
2. Tweet about it. Let your Twitter followers know when you publish a new newsletter. Tweet the link to your subscription form. Offer a free ad to any of your followers who subscribe and email you their Twitter user name. Ask your followers to retweet (RT) your posts promoting your list.
3. Add a subscription form to every page of your website. The upper right side is considered the best location, but if that doesn't work, choose a spot and add it to every page.
4. Offer email list-only specials, coupons and information. Make sure your email list gets your best of your best, not just rehashed material from your blog or other publications.
5. Update your Facebook status with a note about your newsletter. Encourage your FB friends and family to subscribe and tell their followers. Be sure to thank them when they do.
6. Promote your mailing list instead of your website. Then use your mailing list to promote your other offerings. Your goal is to capture the names and contact info of your prospects and customers. Once you do that, you can steer them to your website, products and services.
7. Create a separate sign-up page (also known as a “squeeze page”) for your mailing list and link to it from every page on your site. Include sample content and detailed information to let your visitors know why they should want to give you their email address. Make it worth their while by offering something they can't get anywhere else except through you (see hint #1 above).
8. Write guest posts and articles for blogs and websites that reach your target audience. Instead of promoting your website in your resource box, encourage readers to subscribe to your mailing list and let them know what they'll get if they do.
9. Include a link to your subscription page in your email signature (sig file), as well as in your signature on discussion forums and groups you belong to. Most forums will allow you to do this automatically through customizing your profile. This method is an easy way to capture names from prospects without their having to visit your blog to learn about you.
10. Ask subscribers to forward and share your mailing list with their friends, family and colleagues. Include a line at the bottom of every email asking your readers to forward the information on if they've found it useful. You might even offer an incentive, such as a free ad or a special discount for every subscriber they refer to you.
There are many other ways to promote your mailing list, but the main thing is to do it, and do it now! Use every means at your disposal to spread the word and encourage subscribers. Building a mailing list is the best way to build your business online, and promoting it wherever you can is the best way to grow your list.